Discover DeCrypt is a charity based in the Church of St Mary de Crypt and the adjacent old schoolroom in Southgate Street in the centre of Gloucester. Our recent £2.1 million restoration project was made possible through a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and donations from other trusts, organisations and individuals. We opened our doors to visitors in March 2019, aiming to share our faith in Jesus Christ, the story of our history and heritage and the life of our city. The opening was marked by a well-attended Service of Celebration, in which community groups participated and a sermon was preached by the Right Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester.
We are now able to offer a range of volunteering opportunities, including valuable experience for young people looking to move into employment and older people offering skills and time for the benefit of the community. We operate an exciting programme of regular activities and events in both the church and the schoolroom, involving a wide range of partners. In the nine months since March 2019 these have drawn in a total of 26,023 visitors. Whilst this is in itself a hugely encouraging figure – nearly double the target we set in our business plan – what is even more uplifting is the overwhelmingly positive comments made by those who have visited:
“Amazing transformation; wonderful space to wander in, so light and welcoming. Excellent job done!”
“The blend of open access in combination with the ‘spiritual’ is delightful. Nicely done!”
“A lovely welcome, a lively church and a cup of tea and sit down in peace and quiet, very gratefully enjoyed.”
“Fantastic schoolroom, so much for the children to do; a lovely, little find.”
“The really warm welcome from the greeters makes such a difference”.
As well as being open for general visitors five days a week, Discover DeCrypt hosts events and activities, which are provided either by us or by our partner organisations. Using the headline banner of ‘Faith’, ‘Story’ and ‘Life’, these events have been designed to meet the four-fold objectives of the charity as follows:
We remain a consecrated church within the parish of Hempsted with St Mary de Lode and St Mary de Crypt, Gloucester
Regular worship is held in the Nave with a weekly service of Prayers for the City and a monthly Eucharist
The Raikes Chapel is maintained as a space for private prayer and contemplation on a daily basis
Weekly Coffee, Cake and Conversation sessions provide an informal meeting place and support for those who need a listening ear
A range of special services have formed part of several events in the City, including the Tall Ships Festival, the Pride March and Gloucester Day
Breath-taking special events were held to mark Gloucester’s involvement in Kindertransport eighty years ago and the ongoing work of Garas among the refugees of today
We hosted a weekend-long Festival of Death and Life with nationally-known guest speakers, music, poetry and other activities
Some services, such as the Transgender Day of Remembrance, have been particularly innovative.
The regular bookings we have see the premises used by a range of groups, including local choirs, adult education life skills classes and a tai chi group
Cuddesdon Gloucester & Hereford makes weekly use of the building for its ordinand training
A Creative Crafty Club has met during the school holidays, involving children in art, drama, games and puzzles
Exhibitions have included a schools’ ‘Encounters’ artwork competition, the Artshape contemporary art exhibition and ‘The World on our Doorstep’ exhibition by Garas
Particularly spectacular was the Strike-A-Light scratch circus held in the Nave complete with rig, lighting and live music and involving young people collaborating with experienced arts professionals.
Interpretation roundels and other signage guide visitors around the church; the use of a specially-designed app and a talking pen trail provides a novel aspect for this tour
Our Historical Research Group has published a new book, ‘Hidden Lives’, which records and celebrates the lives of some of the ordinary parishioners of the past
We took a full part in the Gloucester History Festival with tours of the church and tower, a presentation of ‘Rotten Luck’, a play about the 19th century judicial system, and an exhibition on Robert Raikes and prison reform
The local base for Godly Play materials and library books from the former diocesan resource centre are now situated on the premises
We now have a pack of resources ready for use with school groups.
Regular Saturday morning coffee concerts are held in the church, featuring a local community choir, musicians from schools, visiting professional groups and individual artists
The Schools’ Poetry Slam and a regular programme of storytelling events have been held for youngsters during school holidays
We provided a high quality venue for a number of concerts and rehearsals during the world-renowned ‘Three Choirs Festival’, which was held in Gloucester in August 2019
A number of the groups which meet regularly in the schoolroom are peer-led, including Artists in Recovery and the LGBT+ Partnership
An extensive flower festival, part of the city’s Tall Ships weekend, was well-attended
The Three Shires Craft Fair brought in over 3,000 visitors over a weekend prior to Christmas
Talks and concerts have been held as part of the Christian Arts Festival, the Art in the City Festival and the Gloucester Summer of Music, Arts and Culture
A number of plays have been presented by University of Gloucestershire students and other groups; they have included ‘The Overcoat’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and ‘Being Hamlet’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Every Brilliant Thing’.
Registered Charity Number: 1167097
Address: St Mary de Crypt Church and School, Southgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 1TP
The following have been trustees throughout the year: Rev Canon Nicola Arthy (Ex-Officio Chair); Mr Peter Gould (Treasurer); and Rev Dr Sandra Millar.
During the course of the year they were joined in May by Mr David Evans (Secretary) and in September by Ms Ursula Corcoran.
Trustees are either nominated by the PCC or appointed by the Chair following consultation with existing trustees. The full Board of Trustees has four meetings a year, whilst a smaller group referred to as the Operations Board meets each month.
The charity employs an Operations Manager and a Community, Arts and Events Manager and others in duty manager and caretaker roles. We also rely extensively on a committed team of volunteers, who work hard to help make Discover Decrypt the lively and vibrant community it is.
David Evans on behalf of the Discover DeCrypt Trustees, January 2020